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The landscape of an architecture

Geza Gri e Zucchi Associati

In his Viaggio in Italia, Guido Piovene describes the inhabitants of Friuli as living a contradiction that is still a notable feature of this northern Italian region even today: a strong attachment to their roots coupled, however, with a nomadic spirit, an urge to leave and become part of other cultures. This apparent contradiction is probably the offshoot of another typical characteristic of the region’s inhabitants: their down-to-earth pragmatism, a rare quality in Italy, a country more inclined to privilege the abstract principle rather than the facts of a case, only to then subsequently adjust the initial ideas to fit the facts that turn out very differently from the initial intentions. Importantly, Friuli is a peripheral Italian region, suspended as it were, between equidistant neighbors hailing from different cultures: Slav, Venetian and Habsburg. It could almost be called a middle kingdom. I have with me an old book published in 1989 on Friuli architects. A surprising volume, it shows how in a moment a grave crisis for architecture in the rest of Italy - at least in terms of getting things built - architects in Friuli achieved a great deal. This was the heyday of postmodern historicism, whose greatest advocate was Aldo Rossi. As a result, arches, columns, moldings, flags fluttering from roofs and the other accoutrements of this short-lived style spread from the US to the rest of the world, especially to Italy. For sure, the book on Friuli architects has examples of these etymons. Yet it would seem they were used with parsimonious sobriety, in stark contrast to the brash assertiveness of the typical postmodern historicist. Leafing through the book, which documents several noteworthy professionals who succeeded in giving a sense to their buildings, you are left with the impression that for them, good architectural composition, like music, is not a question of the individual notes but rather of the overall range of tone with which the notes are played,...

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